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Updated Dec 1, 2021 9:15 AM

Recent graduates don’t always know where they’re going to land, they’re not always sure what they’re going to dive into after school, but thoughtful grad gifts can say to them good job, you did swimmingly. In this gift guide for grads, we’re zeroing in on grads who can appreciate the chance to decompress with an aquatic adventure, be it in an ocean, lake, pool, or bathtub (hey, it’s technically kinda a body of water). So, here are 10 graduation gift ideas that will earn you an A+ in your capstone seminar on graduation presents. 

Things to consider when choosing graduation gifts for the life aquatic

Whether you’re looking at gifts for swimmers or just someone that enjoys poolside shenanigans, we’ve got a selection of grad gifts that will float their boat. Just take into consideration if your graduate is more active or more relaxed, if they prefer tech or some people-powered excitement, and you’ll shore up the perfect way for them to relax before they move on to wherever the tides take them.

Best gift for the grad who wants to retune their time: SONY Walkman Waterproof Bluetooth MP3 Player Headphones



Designed and tested for use 2 meters underwater, this is a top gift for swimmers, as well as a great grad gift for surfers—not only is the Sony NW-WS623 built to handle saltwater, but they’re dustproof and therefore sand-safe, so the beach won’t destroy them. They’re equipped with Bluetooth and NFC for easy pairing when a sound source is nearby, but have internal storage for 16 GB of tunes on their own, too. They are also operable by controls on the earpieces or by the wireless remote that can be worn like a ring. Besides, they come with built-in graduation party nostalgia: parents can regale their grad with tales about the Walkman they had growing up—cassette tapes, FM tuners, fuzzy headphones, and all.

Best gift for the grad who is hoping to do more of less: Sun Squad Sloth Pool Float

Sun Squad


If you thought the #poolfloat phenomenon of custom/quirky inflatables would be short-lived, you thought wrong. And years into this Instagram trend, it’s safe to say it’s gonna continue to stick around. We’re calling this season the summer of the sloth, because, come on, look at this guy. This grad gift is the embodiment of ease, pacing, and self-care where they can rest, enjoy the weather, and float on dreaming about the future. And, of course, do so in a very Insta-friendly way.

Best gift for the grad who wants to park it poolside: Igloo Heritage Backpack 28-Can Cooler

Igloo Heritage


Sometimes graduation gifts and beach gifts can be one and the same, like with this 10.5-quart backpack cooler. It looks good enough that they’ll want to carry it, and works well enough that they’ll keep reaching for it, whether for an afternoon at the pool or a day trip with friends. Sized to fit 28 cans, it will hold food and drinks for a few people. Bonus points for a grad who cares about the environment: The exterior is made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.

Best graduation gifts for the grad who wants on-the-water footage: GoPro HERO8 Waterproof Action Camera



Graduation gift ideas for the most adventurous people in your life can be tough. So why not go for something that can let them document, re-live, and share the action? The GoPro camera is the OG waterproof action camera and has lived up to the title with consistent technological improvements. For example, the HERO8 model shoots 4K video, live streams at 1080p, and can take HDR or Raw photos—plus, it has a touchscreen and four swappable digital “lenses.”

Best gift for the grad who’s an aspiring underwater photographer: Greatever G2 Full-Face Snorkel Mask with Camera Mount



Let that GoPro camera go underwater like it’s made to do. Whether used for getting up close and personal with some ocean life or for taking underwater photos with friends in the neighborhood pool, this snorkel mask will give your water-loving grad a panoramic view free of fog—and with a mount that lets them record what they see without being distracted by a screen. 

Best gift for the grad whose ideal ride floats: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak

Advanced Elements


Looking for graduation gift ideas for someone who may need gear is not just a matter of choosing the item, but reconciling where it will be stored. And if you’re the one who’s housing said grad’s stuff, the question is personal. While inflatable kayaks have been around for decades, their production and popularity have recently skyrocketed. They’re durable, maneuverable in and out of the water…and won’t take up half of your garage or storage unit in the off-season. And like the batteries of their childhood toys, pumps are generally sold separately, so prepare accordingly.

Best graduation gifts for the grad who can’t afford a new phone: JOTO Universal Waterproof Pouch



No H2O-friendly gift guide for grads would be complete without a method of waterproofing your cellphone. We’re not talking iPhones-can-handle-some-splashing-now waterproof, we’re talking take-your-phone-swimming-or-surfing kind of waterproof—while still being able to use the touchscreen and the camera. This is the graduation gift for swimmers who can’t seem to keep their phone out of harm’s way, as well as the ones who avoid activities for fear they’ll destroy their tech. And because you are often pocket-less at the beach, it has a neck strap and enough space to stash cash or a card, too. 

Best gift for the grad whose most-visited body of water is the bathtub: Bubbly Belle Bath Bombs Gift Set

Bubbly Belle


Handmade from a lineup of all-natural ingredients (Epsom salt, coconut oil, kaolin clay, and essential oils), these 5-ounce bath bombs will add fizz, color, and scent to each bath while also soothing sore muscles and moisturizing dry skin. For extra escape for your grad: Pair these with underwater headphones, too. On that note, maybe get them the 24-pack of bath bombs.

Best graduation gifts for the grad who loves splashy sports: Bestway Hydro-Force Inflatable Stand-Up Paddle Board and Kayak



Weighing in at 34 pounds and supporting up to 209 pounds, this 10-foot inflatable stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is good for paddlers of all levels and ranks high on the list of outdoor graduation presents. It’s also good for sitting down on the job, as it has a simple seat conversion to make it work like a sit-on-top kayak. And if you’re imagining trying to balance on a raft, fear not: when fully inflated, it works and feels like a hardboard—and it has three rigid fins that stabilize it like one, too. A convertible (SUP and kayak) oar and a pump come included.

Best graduation gifts for chasing waterfalls: Birkenstock Arizona EVA Sandals



It’s the white whale of graduation presents: one that’s useful, under $50, and on-trend. These unisex sandals are what we in the business call a win-win-win. Additionally, they’re lighter than leather Birkenstocks but have the same supportive footbed, are not only waterproof but also washable, and don’t require any break-in, so your grad will be ready to get out there right away. The sandals are unisex, but note that they’re listed in men’s sizes. Just add two to get the women’s equivalent—a men’s 6 fits as a women’s 8, for example. And they also come in narrow, for the more petite-footed among us.

The final word on this gift guide for grads who love water

High school graduation gifts! College graduation presents! Gifts for swimmers! Gifts for surfers! Gifts for friends! These presents can be stressful to choose. But stressing is, like, so not chill, man. This is why we researched this gift guide for grads who love water: so you can get the best grad gift so the graduate in your life can get out on the water where they belong.

Here’s another gift guide, in case you also need help finding gifts for grads who love reading

Pop Sci wants to help you find the most useful and expert shopping recommendations for the best gift ideas. Searching for more unique gifts? Check out more gift guides here: Kitchen Essentials Gift Guide, Best Tech Gifts, Science Gifts for Kids.